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Hurricane Irene: Aftermath, Day 2

Our latest reports from the field

Animal Rescue Team Field Notes

Get up-to-the-minute pet information in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene on our Twitter pageUse #Irenepets hashtag for the latest. | Donate to help animals affected by Irene and other natural disasters


UPDATED Aug. 29, 5:37 p.m. EDT

 Hurricane Katrina 6-year anniversary: read our look-back»

UPDATED Aug. 29, 5:05 p.m. EDT

From Patrick Kwan, New York State Director:

Most of New York City escaped being hit as hard as expected, though there were some floods, power outages, downed trees, etc. Long Island was hit harder. The Catskills and Hudson Valley areas (about a dozen counties) were hit the hardest—information is still trickling in.

Catskills/Hudson Valley: Our task here was to convince residents that they should take their pets with them when they evacuated. And as the hurricane approached Troy Sunday night, The HSUS got the word out that the Mohawk & Hudson River Humane Society would shelter pets of evacuees. We also reached out to the Mayor of Troy, who responded by informing Troy area residents about the shelter through his twitter account.

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Long Island/Nassau and Suffolk Counties: The HSUS let the public, rescue groups, and shelters know which emergency shelters were pet-friendly. When the Suffolk Community College emergency shelter became full, we told pet owners about other pet-friendly shelters and options.

Want to Help? Text LOVE to 20222 to donate $10 to donate to our Disaster Relief Fund.

New York City: The city is transitioning from response to recovery. As a member of the NYC OEM (Office of Emergency Management) Animal Planning Task Force, The HSUS has been serving shifts at the operations center. We have been a resource on pet-related issues brought up by city and nonprofit agencies, addressed pet-related policies and messaging, and ensured smooth operation of the city’s Coastal Storm Sheltering Plan and animal sheltering plan.

Before the storm, we educated the public about developing their own disaster plans and the city’s pet policies. Fortunately, all evacuation centers were pet-friendly.

See more photos on Facebook »
See yesterday's field notes, photos»

We were active round-the-clock on twitter and other social media platforms to immediately respond to questions and issues. The HSUS’s Pets for Life NYC program also handled queries through its hotline. We also told the public what specific supplies the city’s Animal Care & Control needed—we’ve heard that the AC&C it is receiving those supplies.

Special thanks:

  • To the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission for reminding drivers and operators yesterday that the pets of evacuees returning home must be accommodated. Normally, the driver can refuse a pet who is not a service animal.
  • The National Guard—NYC evacuation shelters reported that the National Guard helped animals as well as people at the shelters.
  • The mayor's office—Just as I left the NYC Office of Emergency Management emergency operations center, I asked Mayor Bloomberg’s office for a particular favor. Big kudos for this tweet: "@NYCMayorsOffice Most NYC animal shelters resuming services. Adopt a #ShelterPet from @NYCACC or @Bideawee or by searching @ShelterPets. #IrenePets"



  • Baby squirrels blown out of their nests need immediate help to survive. The HSUS

UPDATED Aug. 29, 3:50 p.m. EDT

Help Irene’s small victims: baby squirrels

Hurricane Irene has damaged and destroyed thousands of gray squirrel nests. As people begin cleaning up fallen trees, they are finding many dead, injured, or orphaned baby squirrels.

Gray squirrels are at the height of their second birthing season of the year. Most of their offspring are between no more than days and four weeks old.

If you find baby squirrels on the ground, it is critical that you give them immediate care to save their lives; they will probably be suffering from hypothermia and starving.

Take the following steps to save their lives:

  • Wearing thick gloves, gather the babies squirrels and place them inside a thick, soft cloth such as a cloth diaper or fleece scarf or hat.
  • Provide immediate warmth by placing one of the following beneath the cloth: chemical hand warmers, a hot water bottle (replace the hot water every 30 minutes), or a heating pad set on the lowest setting. (If the heating pad has no cover, put it inside a pillow case.)
  • Place the baby squirrels, cloth, and warmer inside either a small cardboard box if babies’ eyes are closed or inside a larger container such as a small aquarium, with a lid.

If you don’t think the babies fell from the tree today, immediately contact a wildlife rehabilitator or your Department of Natural Resources to arrange for transfer. You can find rehabilitators using one of these sites: Wildlife Rehabber or Wildlife International.

You can also call your local humane society. Many shelters and humane societies can provide emergency care for wildlife.

If you are certain the baby squirrels fell from the tree today, bring them inside and warm them as described above, then place them with the box on the tree’s stump—if they’ve fallen during clean-up—so that the mother might find them (once tree crews have cleared the tree and left). If they are still in the box by dark, bring them inside and continue to warm them. Call a wildlife rehabilitator or your Department of Natural Resources.


UPDATED Aug. 29, 2:55 p.m. EDT

From our Animal Rescue Team in North Carolina:

The Animal Rescue Team is now on the ground in in Craven County, N.C., to set up an emergency shelter for rescued animals. Families forced to evacuate who have no place to go with their pets and first responders who are working around the clock will be able to temporarily place their pets at the shelter as well.

Tomorrow, at the request of Pamlico County—an area that suffered devastating loss—The HSUS will start rescuing animals left behind by evacuating families who thought they had no other option but want to be sure their animals are safe. We’re sending a team of eight people and four vehicles to work with law enforcement officers.

The HSUS has also set up a toll-free number for people in Pamlico County, N.C., whose animals are in danger because of Irene: 877-822-3343. The number is for requests to rescue pets left in homes or loose and in danger because of the hurricane. The community is very grateful we’re there to help their four-legged family members, and we are glad to be there to give the animals the shelter and care they need.

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See yesterday's field notes, photos»

  • A volunteer rides out the storm in a temporary shelter for puppies rescued from a puppy mill in Bakersfield, Vt. The HSUS

UPDATED Aug. 29, 11:55 a.m. EDT

From Joanne Bourbeau, senior state director for Vermont and New Hampshire:

The temporary shelter housing dogs rescued in the July puppy mill raid in Bakersfield, Vt., didn't sustain any damage, thankfully, and we were spared the high winds. However there were multiple flash floods in the surrounding areas and many/most roads are impassable. This is going to severely hamper our ability to get volunteers in and out.

Jacksonville is flooded and I wasn't able to get home last night, and our rescue team members couldn't make it back to their hotel, so we are staying here in a barn. We’ve got a generator, so we have limited power.

I’m going to further survey the extent of local damage today. We may have to restage our volunteers to another area, possibly Greenfield Massachusetts.  

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